Instacart's CEO on the importance of brick-and-mortar retail

At this year's Groceryshop in Las Vegas, Instacart's Apoorva Mehta said brick-and-mortar grocery is here to stay

Though retail is going through unprecedented change with the advent and evolution of e-commerce and mobile technology, Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta says brick-and-mortar grocery is here to stay.

Addressing a sold-out crowd at this year's Groceryshop event in Las Vegas Monday afternoon, Mehta said research had shown that consumers were especially loyal to their local grocery retailers.

Grocery shoppers will go to specific stores for specific items, he said. One store may have the best pre-made sandwiches, while another may have the freshest selection of organic produce.

“We see this in our data and when we talk to our customers, retail brands matter,” he said.

And, shoppers spread their grocery spend across retailers based on occasion. For instance, they may do weekly shops at a store such as Sprouts and load up on bulk items once a month at Sam’s Club.

The bottom line: the importance of grocery retail shouldn’t be diminished. Grocery is the largest retail category in the world, with nearly $1 trillion spent on groceries in the U.S. and Canada every year, said Mehta.

“We believe grocers are the backbone of what the future of grocery shopping looks like,” he said.

Though brick-and-mortar grocery is here to stay—“they provide incredible value to customers and they’re located at the right place around communities and carry the right items communities love”—Mehta said consumers wanted the convenience of delivery.

Retailers are in a position to cater to customers across a variety of platforms, he said, should they choose to do so. The grocers who can meet consumer needs across these platforms will excel; and Instacart, of course, is there to help. “We want to play a part in that,” said Mehta.

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